THE LANGUAGE OF BODY LANGUAGE
So, what does all this translate to? One of the major implications of this is that, we are in constant communication with others through the ‘language of Actions speak louder than words, and that implies in your day to day conversations; our movement, eye contact etc matter to the entire communication process. In fact, words only account for 7% of the total message. Our tone of voice accounts for 38% and the rest, 55%, is based on our body language.
Now the question remains, how do we ensure that we are doing the rights things at the right time and getting a positive message across while we are communicating?
Here are 10 simple tips on body language that will help you connect well with others.
1. STAND/HOLD A POWER POSE TO BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE
Standing in an expansive ‘high-power’ pose has two biological benefits:
- The body releases higher levels of testosterone, which is linked to power and dominance
- Another benefit is that holding this pose, for as less as two minutes, also reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels. This finding was an outcome of a research conducted at Harvard and Columbia Business Schools This can be very helpful when you’re feeling restrained but want to appear confident. Apart from causing hormonal shifts in both males and females, holing the power pose can lead to increased feelings of power and a higher tolerance for risk. This is important as the study also found that people are more often influenced by how they feel about you than by what you’re saying.
2. LISTEN WITH INTENT TO INCREASE PARTICIPATION DURING CONVERSATIONS
In today’s world multitasking is a way of life; however, if you want people to speak up, don’t multitask while they do. It is important that we avoid the temptation to check our text messages or check our watch. The best way to focus on those who are speaking is by turning your head and body to face them directly and by making eye contact. Leaning forward, nodding, and tilting your head are non- verbal cues that show you’re engagedand paying attention. It’s crucial to hear people but it’s just as important to make sure they know you are listening and this shows through your body language.
3. REMOVE ANY PHYSICAL BARRIERS TO ENCOURAGE COLLABORATION FROM OTHERS
Physical obstructions are very damaging to collaborative efforts. Once you take away anything that blocks your view or forms a barrier between you and others the channel of communication becomes more clear. Just as simple as holding your coffee mug in a way that seems to deliberately block your body or distance you from others might create a sense of a barrier between the two parties. A senior executive at a Fortune 500 company once mentioned that he could “evaluate his team’s comfort by how high they held their coffee cups”. He noted that the more insecure individuals felt, the higher they held their coffee. Another thing to note is that people with their hands held at waist level are more comfortable than those with hands chest high.
4. SHAKE HANDS TO CONNECT INSTANTLY WITH ANOTHER PERSON,
One of the most primitive and powerful nonverbal cues is touch. When touching someone on the arm, hand, or shoulder for as little as 1/40 of a second it helps in creating a human bond. Physical touch and warmth are set by the handshaking tradition. This tactile contact makes a lasting and positive impression on the persons shaking hands. A study on handshakes by the Income Center for Trade Shows showed that people are two times more likely to remember you if you shake hands with them. The research also found that people react more openly and are friendlier to those with whom they shake hands.
5. GIVE A SMILE TO ENCOURAGE GOOD FEELINGS,
A genuine smile helps stimulate your own sense of well being as well as tells those around you that you are approachable, cooperative, and trustworthy. One can usually differentiate between a genuine smile (which comes on slowly, crinkles the eyes, lights up the face, and fades away slowly) and a fake one. It’s very hard not to respond to a smile with a smile. Facial expressions trigger corresponding feelings so the smile you get back actually changes that person’s emotional state positively.
6. MIRROR EXPRESSIONS AND POSTURES TO SHOW AGREEMENT WITH OTHERS
Next time when you are talking with someone notice their body language, if they are copying your body language, it’s their way of nonverbally saying that they like or agree with you. An important part of building rapport and creating harmonious feelings with others is often achieved when you mirror other people with intent. Start by observing a person’s facial and body gestures and then subtly letting your body take on similar expressions and postures. For example, when some someone is constantly using their hands while talking, start noticing when and how that person is doing so and in turn mimic their actions. This will make the other person feel understood and accepted.
7. USE HAND GESTURES TO IMPROVE YOUR SPEECH,
There is special region called the Broca’s area that is responsible for speech production and brain scans have shown that it is active not only when we’re talking, but when we gesture with our hands. Gesture is integrally linked to speech, so gesturing as we talk can actually power up our thinking.
Put some effort into this and you’ll find that the physical act of gesturing helps you form clearer thoughts, and speak in concise sentences with use more expressive language.
8.WATCH PEOPLE’S FEET TO LEARN THE TRUTH
Whenever people try to control their body language, the focus is primarily on their facial expressions, body postures, and to some extent hand/arm gestures. People overlook the movement of their legs and feet; it is also where the truth can most often be found. You can tell a person is nervous and anxious through increased foot movements. Studies show that one has a greater success in judging a person’s real emotional if they can see the entire body. Instinctively you’ve been reacting to foot gestures all your life.
9. KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN TO SOUND AUTHORITATIVE
Allow your voice to relax into its optimal pitch before a speech or important telephone call. This can be done by keeping your lips together and making the sounds “um hum, um hum, um hum” or chanting “Om” for about 2 minutes. Having a calm and well-toned voice will make you sound more authoritative than shouting.
10. UNCROSS YOUR ARMS AND LEGS TO IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY,
Allan and Barbara Pease, who research body language and its implications, reported a fascinating finding from one of their studies. They found that when a group of volunteers remembered 38% more at a lecture when they sat with unfolded arms and legs, compared to ta group that attended the same lecture with folded arms and legs. So uncrossing your arms and legs will help you retain information that comes your way. Notice if people you talk to are in a defensive (closed posture) when you are talking to them. When this happens, try to get them to change their stance and position by tactfully suggesting a move to the shade, or pointing out something behind that person.